West Midlands Fire Service to roll out more Brigade Response Vehicles

Plans for a further roll-out of innovative Brigade Response Vehicles throughout the region have today been announced by West Midlands Fire Service.

The changes are the latest following ongoing reviews of how the brigade makes the most efficient use of its staff, vehicles and buildings, as well as how it responds to incidents and continues to deliver vital fire prevention and safety services.

The brigade has committed to keeping open its 38 fire stations, with at least one standard fire engine at all of them, and to maintaining its five-minute target response time to high-risk incidents.

Coventry, Highgate and Walsall stations will each have two fire engines available around-the-clock.

New Brigade Response Vehicles (specially-converted four-wheel drives) will be introduced in July and replace one of the two fire engines currently based at Northfield, Foleshill and Sheldon fire stations.

Phil Hales, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, said: “The safety of our firefighters and the public is central to everything we do. The changes take account of risk, and reflect a long-term strategy of having a vehicle fleet aligned to demand.

“No firefighters have been made redundant, but overall numbers are expected to decrease until at least 2015. However, because of the numbers leaving, we do plan to recruit some more this year.

“The result is that we are having to think of new ways of operating, but members of the public will not see a change in the level of service we provide. Our stations are staying open, and people will get an appropriate response when they need it. We are also committed to maintain what are probably the best fire service response times in the country.

“Our vital fire prevention and education work will also continue in homes, schools and businesses across the region. We’re in no doubt that this has made massive contributions to the drop in fires that we’ve seen in recent years.”

Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We are faced with the unprecedented challenge of losing more than £20 million of the money we get from the Government over four years. We are also at a point where around six firefighters are leaving the brigade a month through retirement or for other reasons.

“Earlier this year, West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority agreed an average £5 a year increase on council tax, and promised that this would be used to protect frontline staff.”

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